Should “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Silver Linings Playbook” hit $100 million at the domestic box office -- and both have an outside shot -- it will mean an astonishing seven movies nominated this year for the Best Picture Oscar will have achieved that feat.
Fox's “Life of Pi” on Monday joined four other Best Picture Oscar nominees in surpassing the $100 million standard at the domestic box office. “Lincoln” ($161 million), “Django Unchained ($139 million), “Les Misérables: ($131 million) and “Argo” ($115 million) already have done it and are all still in theaters.
And the number for “Pi” should get an asterisk; it's made $400 million at the overseas box office, too.
That's quite a change from last year, when only one of the nine nominated films -- “The Help” -- was over $100 million by the night of the Academy Awards.
Both “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Silver Linings” are at about $60 million with a month to go before the Feb. 24 Oscars, so it will take some breaks to get to the magic number.
"They'll both inch their way into that range," BoxOffice.com vice president and senior analyst Phil Contrino told TheWrap Wednesday. "Neither is a sure bet, but both have momentum and could do it."
"'Zero Dark Thirty' probably has the better chance, because of the controversy surrounding it, but 'Silver Linings Playbook' is a crowd-pleaser and built to last, kind of like 'The Descendants' last year." That family drama also was nominated for Best Picture and wound up with $82 million domestically.
Five nominated films hit the $100 million mark in both 2010 and 2009, the first year the Academy expanded the number of Best Picture nomination slots from five to 10. In 2010, it was “Toy Story 3,” “Inception,” “True Grit,” “The King's Speech” and “Black Swan.” In 2009, it was “Avatar,” “Up,” “The Blind Side” “Inglourious Basterds” and “District 9.”
Of course, box-office success doesn't generally translate into Oscar success. In the past 10 years, “The Departed” in 2006 and “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” in 2003 were the only winners that came in as the highest-grossing films.